Watching the preview for The Star movie, I thought “Finally! A new animated movie with an all-star cast about the birth of Jesus. How exciting!” I was even more excited to hear about the variety of well-known musical talents who recorded the soundtrack. I was hopeful that this was going to be a successful movie and I was going to love it. Then those two letters appeared at the end of the preview – PG. Why in the world would a movie about the birth of baby Jesus need to be rated PG? Why wouldn’t this movie be rated G, for ALL to see? Instantly, my curiosity took over and I couldn’t wait for the movie to debut.
My simple review:
Overall, it was a great movie. Telling the story of the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the animals is fun and the personalities of the characters won me over (great cast!). I loved the music (featuring Pentatonix, Mariah Carey, Casting Crowns, and more) and I loved the sacred moment at the nativity with baby Jesus and the animals (that shouldn’t be a spoiler alert because we all know the story!). I think families will really enjoy it. The movie is a great balance of humor, beautiful music and a great message.
My complicated review (likes, dislikes and additional thoughts):
A big focus for much of the movie was on the donkey finding his purpose in life. While that is a positive story line, sometimes the donkey’s story line overshadowed the importance of the upcoming birth of Jesus. Thankfully, a wise camel (voiced by Oprah) reminds us throughout the movie about the importance of the upcoming birth of baby Jesus.
In the movie, King Herod sends one of his men (and two mean dogs) to chase after a pregnant Mary to kill her and the baby. Not only is that Biblically inaccurate, but it is the reason for the PG rating. There are parts that get a little intense in regards to that “chase”. The sword-yielding “mean man” and his dogs appear several times. At one point, one of the dogs puts a tiny animal in his mouth as if to eat her. He spits her out after a couple of seconds and she is fine, but scenes like that could be a bit much for a little one. If little ones who get scared at the slightest thing are watching, you might remind them how the story ends…baby Jesus is born and He and all the animals are ok (again, you know the story and that should not be a spoiler alert).
References to other parts of the Bible are included in the movie (birth of baby John, text from Isaiah, as well as multiple Biblical references to tell the story as a whole). My recommendation is to be on time to the movie because this is not a movie with a slow beginning. The story line begins immediately as Mary receives a visit from the angel. Just like most Christmas movies, Christmas pageants and storybooks, this movie is a ‘mash-up’ from the Gospels of Luke and John (with some embellishments thrown in for theatrical impact). Even with all the embellishments, I am excited to have a modern, animated Christmas movie that actually focuses on the birth of Jesus.
I hope you and your family will take advantage of this opportunity to discuss the birth of Jesus. I recommend reading the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke and Matthew before and after seeing the movie so that you can discuss the similarities and differences with your children. It is also a wonderful opportunity to talk about theology with older children. For example, at one point when Mary and Joseph are discouraged during their difficult journey to Bethlehem, Mary says “this is all part of God’s plan”. What a great opportunity to ask questions such as: What do we believe about God’s plan? Do we believe that God plans for us to have difficult times in our life? Do we believe that God has an overall plan but He doesn’t plan every aspect of our lives (ex. difficulties)? How do we know that God is with us during our difficult times? What do we believe about prayer?
I see The Star movie as an opportunity and a conversation starter. It is a great way to infuse the story of Jesus into our conversations as we begin Advent. I think children of all ages will enjoy it and older children (who may think they are too grown-up for animated movies) will have lots to talk about after this movie. I suggest a family outing to see the movie followed by a sit-down meal to talk about it…with all of your kiddos and your Bible. I’m excited to hear about your conversations!